|This study is divided into four parts. First, it poses the context of
choice of language of teaching in the educational systems of multilingual countries of
French-speaking Africa, and specifies the object as well as the limits of the study.
Secondly, it briefly describes the sociolinguistic situation of the capital of Congo,
Kinshasa, and presents the hierarchy of the various languages involved and the number of
speakers. In a third part, the study presents the sociolinguistic investigation carried
out in Kinshasa, as well as the principal results of this investigation. The study
attempted to show the opinions of Congolese on matters of the linguistic choices
concerning the language of teaching, as well as the motivations for these choices (general
and particular tendencies). In conclusion, the author proposes some actions, preconditions
and strategies essential to the success of linguistic reform in the Democratic Republic of
The study indicates some trends. From the data analyzed (linguistic choices and their motivations) emerges a hierarchy of languages which places French in first position although it is the language spoken by a minority of Congolese (+ / - 15% of the population).But its importance and extent of its functions are undeniable.
As for the four national languages of Congo, their status is hierarchically intermediate between French, official language and language of social advancement, on the one hand, and the other minority Congolese languages, on the other hand. Among these four national languages, two are characterized by the number of their speakers, their capacity of extension and the extent of their zones of influence : it is of the lingala and the kiswahili. They are preferred, according to the investigation, especially for teaching at the primary level, and for cultural anchoring. These two Congolese languages (the lingala and the kiswahili) thus confirm their status of national languages.
For two other national Congolese languages, the kikongo and especially the ciluba, their expansion remains extremely limited and their status of « national languages » can only be justified within a restricted framework. These languages have nothing of national languages and serve to confuse the terminology between national and official language (i.e. language officially recognized by the State and used for certain public uses, without profiting from the full status of an official language).
The author concludes that, since the image that Congolese have of their languages constitutes a determinant psychological factor for the acceptance or the rejection of planned languages and their uses, in particular for the language of the school, it be clear that no linguistic reform nor project of change can have a result unless they take into account the tends and opinions expressed by the recipient of these reform, mainly the different partners of the Congolese school.